What people did for leisure in early 19 th C. Britain.
What early football was like.
What changed sport during the Victorian age.
Cockfighting Cockfighting was popular with gamblers because it was difficult to ‘fix’ the fights by doping. It was banned in England in 1835
Bear-baiting Bear-baiting with dogs was banned in 1835.
Bull-baiting Bull-baiting was also banned in the 1835 Cruelty to Animals Act. It still went on - 'the most barbarous act I ever saw. It was young bull and had very little notion of tossing the dogs, which tore his ears and the skin off his face in shreds,’ -James Gryce, Shrops, 1878
Horse Racing A day at the races was great entertainment. Most people went for the sideshows such as fighting rings, markets and of course the Booze ! After 1815 racing grew in popularity. The Grand National at Aintree was first held in 1839. Races were made fairer for gamblers by handicapping.
Public Executions Every Monday up to 10,000 people would watch the hangings at Tyburn in London.
Cricket Cricket was already a nationwide game by 1815. It was often rough and violent! Lords cricket ground opened in 1827. The new style of over-arm bowling began in 1830 but took 50 years to catch on! Cricket’s popularity was spread by touring teams such as the professional All-England side. Many formed clubs after tour visits.
Theatre and the Opera This was the preserve of the middle and upper classes. Cheap performances were set up, but the working class preferred music-halls with rude songs and lots of drink! “ the taste for refined music has not reached the manual classes… … but when the circus comes the beer-house keepers complain”
The biggest entertainment was… DRINK! The 1700s had seen huge drink problems, mainly because of cheap and available gin. The 1830 Beer Act allowed more ale houses to be opened. Tax on beer was reduced to get people off gin.
Beer-houses – a haven. Beer-houses, which only sold beer and cider, were the only places where working-men could go for comfort. They were heated and warmer than their squalid homes. The women stayed at home!
Medieval football Football of course dates back to the Middle Ages. It was a violent ‘game’ played between rival villages on Shrove Tuesdays. It was frowned upon by the authorities. They wanted people to learn archery – to be ready for wars. “ a devilish pastime – more a bloody murdering practice than a sport”
Football – the Public Schools Football was played in the Public Schools. Each school had their own rules. This is ‘prince’ Harry playing Eton football. Strange!
Modern Football Football was taken to the masses by ex-public school boys, as they went off to own and manage factories and mines. These ‘gentlemen’ wanted the game kept amateur – but this meant working men could not play as they couldn’t afford to miss work.
The World’s First Football Club The oldest club in the world is Sheffield FC. This was followed by Notts. County FC. In 1862 a group of Nottingham business men and cricketers met in the Lion Hotel, Nottingham, to form the Notts. County Football Club.. All the players were amateurs, reasonably well-off, and usually added up to 11 or 12 players with nine forwards and two backs, or behinds. Hacking of shins, tripping and elbowing were allowed and the goalkeeper could be charged out of the way of a shot even if he was nowhere near the ball.
The Football Association - 1863 The F.A. was founded to draft a common set of rules for ‘As soc iation Football’ (‘ soc cer’) Eleven players on each side became football law in 1870 and a year later the F.A. Cup was introduced. In 1875 crossbars were introduced instead of tape 1878 saw the first floodlit match at Sheffield and a referee's whistle sounded for the first time in a match between Nottingham Forest and Sheffield.
Football’s rise in popularity “ The attendances at the association games showed that the English working class had at last found a cheap and amusing way of spending a Saturday afternoon” – L.Woodward ‘Age of Reform’
the growth of the railways from the 1840s allowed people to travel around England
football was cheap – it required very little equipment, could be played almost anywhere and in almost any weather
As football spread… Inter-county and inter-city competitions became popular. The FA Cup was first played for in 1871, and the Football League founded in 1888. The Original FA Cup. This was stolen and never found in 1895!
An Industrial Game The original twelve league clubs.
A different world…. When Blackburn supporters visited London for the FA Cup Final in 1883, the Pall Mall Gazette reported “ a northern horde of uncouth garb and strange oaths – like a tribe of Sudanese Arabs let loose.” Uncouth – scruffy Garb - clothes
For an Industrial People As acts were passed limiting the length of the working week, the factories and mines shut at mid-day on Saturdays. This allowed workers to go and play, and watch the 3pm matches. Not for them the luxury of the middle classes to play and watch cricket and golf – which last a lot longer than 90 minutes!
The Growth of Professionalism As crowds grew, special stadiums needed to be built. The owners charged admission fees, and tried to attract the best players. “ Broken-time” payments were made to players to compensate their loss of wages. Many ‘gentlemen’ were horrified at this erosion of the ‘amateur spirit’.
Amateur vs. Professional One ‘gentlemen’s’ club, The Corinthians completely refused to play for money, refused to play in cup competitions and even refused to take penalty kicks when awarded them – because they didn’t believe that any person would commit a foul! Football was already mainly a working class sport and payments were common. This prevented the split which divided Rugby Union and League in 1895.
Growing participation In the 1930s municipal (council) playing fields and parks increased. A new generation of footballers was being given ground to bloom. The Thirties was the boom decade for sport in England. Crowds of 60,000 were the norm for many clubs. The electric telegraph and radio allowed results to be spread quickly. Sports papers were sold on Saturday evenings with the same day’s results in them.
Football takes on the World English sailors took football with them to the ports of Italy, Spain, Brazil and Argentina. Friendly games with the locals were played, and football fever spread. Juventus, Bologna, Fiorentina and many other clubs were set up by English exiles. The World Cup was first played in 1930, but it wasn’t until cheap flights that world competitions took off, in the 1950s and 1960s.
Football’s place as the national sport was never in doubt. But other ways to spend leisure time were hitting attendances.
television – on the rise since 1953
betting shops – legalised in the 1960s
shopping – a culture shift in the late 1960s meant more men spent family time!
The Money Men move in. Commercial interest in the game picked up in the 1960s. England’s World Cup win in 1966 had captured the nation’s imagination. All it needed was for the first soccer SUPERSTAR. Enter……………
Sponsorship and advertising Umbro was the first shirt-maker to put its logo on display, in 1974 on Liverpool’s kit. In 1979 it was also Liverpool who had the first shirt sponsorship in England.
Competition Sponsorship In 1981 the Football League Cup was sponsored by the Milk Marketing Board. It was renamed the ‘Milk Cup’ as part of the deal. It has since been known as the Rumbelows Cup, Littlewoods Cup, Coca-Cola Cup and presently the Worthington Cup. The FA Cup is regarded as too special a name to be changed in this way.
Player Sponsorships The professional footballer has come a long way since Jimmy Hill founded the players union – the PFA – to demand an end to the maximum wage.